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Christmas in Iowa: Billings man finds holiday miracle in kidney transplant

Posted at 10:56 PM, Dec 12, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:50:46-04

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) —Christmastime in a hospital can be depressing, but two Billings area high school sweethearts were giddy Wednesday as the walked hand-in-hand through the hallway.

That’s because Dan Landon just received the gift he’s been waiting for since 2015: a new kidney, reports KCCI of Des Moines, Iowa.

“It’s a blessing,” said Landon, a Vietnam veteran. He said being exposed to Agent Orange caused a lot of health problems, including kidney failure.

“If I were to leave dialysis, in less than 30 days I’d be dead,” he said.

His bride of 51 years, Charlene Landon, decided she wasn’t going to let that happen.

“I just looked at him and said, ‘We are going to do what we’ve always done, and we’re going to do it together,’” Charlene Landon said. “He saw me through my cancer, and so I am sticking by him.”

Charlene Landon did her research, which led the Montana couple nearly 1,000 miles to UnityPoint in Des Moines.

“Had the shortest waiting time to receive a transplant in the country,” Charlene Landon said. Almost every other transplant hospital has a five- to seven-year waiting period.

“In Iowa, our transplant waiting list is 12 to 18 months,” said Angie Mortorelli, transplant coordinator. “We have patients coming to our center from across the United States. Our surgeons are aggressive in taking kidneys and transplanting our patients off the list.”

Dan Landon’s kidney donor died of a stroke. They may never know the man’s name, but they want his family to know the impact he’s had on them.

“How do you thank anybody? You just can’t. Thank you isn’t adequate,” Charlene Landon said. “We will have a special Merry Christmas.”

The Landons had to move close to Des Moines in what’s called a response radius so they’d be nearby when a kidney became available.

There are more than 114,000 people waiting for a living kidney donors in the United States The Landons want to encourage people that it is easy to be a living donor.

To sign up, go to https://www.unitypoint.org/desmoines/services-living-donations.aspx

Story by Laura Terrell, KCCI